Long-tailed ducks are most vulnerable to predation on land: newly hatched ducklings, freshly laid eggs and molted, flightless adults have the highest mortality rates. Females camouflage their nests and lay eggs close to the water so when ducklings hatch, the dangerous journey to the water is shortened. Males remain on breeding grounds while females lay eggs to help defend the nest from predation. Newly molted males and females stay in flocks in an attempt to lessen the chance mortality just as ducklings travel in large creches before their fall migration.
Avian predators of long-tailed ducks include mew gulls, glaucous gulls, and jaegers. In coastal breeding grounds, Arctic foxes are common predators. When long-tailed ducks mate further inland, near freshwater lakes, red foxes become serious predators.
- mew gulls (Larus canus)
- glaucous gulls (Larus hyperboreus)
- parasitic jaegers (Stercorarius parasiticus)
- Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus)
- red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic